So tomorrow is shaping up to be a huge day for nerds, eh? We finally get the open of the new IFA period, we get arbitration figure exchange day (which could be weirder than usual), and ‘WandaVision’ drops! I cannot wait to see what an MCU show looks and feels like, even if I know that this one is probably going to be intentionally very weird. Obligatory plug: if you don’t have Disney+, you can get it or a bundle here.
• Obviously my comments yesterday about the “gift” that the NL Central has been giving the Cubs (i.e., the chance to reboot and also compete in the division) were never going to be applicable only to the Cubs, because – for example – the Cardinals could do the same thing, especially if they bring back Yadi Molina and Adam Wainwright for another spin. To that end, Derrick Goold writes about the talent drain from the Central, noting that the Cardinals are the only club in the division not to trade away a talented piece yet. That said, he also catalogued all the moves from the big league rosters to compile a list on all the “value” lost by each team so far this offseason (by fWAR from 2019-20, and listing the biggest loss). It’s kind of hilarious:
1. Cubs – 19.5 fWAR (Yu Darvish, 5.6)
2. Cardinals – 12.0 fWAR (Kolten Wong, 5.0)
3. Reds – 8.8 fWAR (Trevor Bauer, 3.1)
4. Brewers – 3.5 fWAR (Ryan Braun, 2.1)
5. Pirates – 3.5 fWAR (Josh Bell, 2.1)
• We’ve gone over the Cubs’ offseason of subtraction by subtraction, so their enormous figure should not surprise you. But it’s wild that every single team has taken a big axe to the roster. Heck, even the Pirates have lost a healthy chunk, and they were already terrible!
• We’ll see where things wind up when the offseason is over – the bulk of free agency is still yet to happen! – but I wouldn’t be surprised if the on-paper Cubs look worse on April 1 than they do today. (I just hope that, if that happens, they’ve done they best they can in free agency to give themselves a puncher’s chance, and – more importantly – that the returns to the organization’s farm system were just too overwhelming not to feel good about the future.)
• Speaking of which. The Cubs’ last obviously-selling trade until … Yu Darvish and the man who was acquired in that very trade. Victor Caratini was the bookends for an era:
July 31, 2014: Theo sends James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio to Atlanta for catching prospect Victor Caratini. pic.twitter.com/G7QYpUM3tT
— All of Theo’s moves (Daily Random Cub) (@DailyRandomCub) January 14, 2021
• Jordan Bastian had some fun at Cubs.com going through the best single game offensive performances in Cubs history, and my guess is there would be some fightin’ right at the top. Statistically, Kris Bryant’s whopper against the Reds in June of 2016 (three homers and two doubles) is the best Cubs game of all-time. But I already know what you’re going to say. The actual best is this – HE DID IT AGAIN! HE DID IT AGAIN! – the Ryne Sandberg Game:
• I mean, we don’t call that game in Cincinnati “The Kris Bryant Game,” so … (no, but seriously, it was one of the best offensive games in BASEBALL HISTORY – just one of 24 instances of 16 total bases in a game). Other big games include Tuffy Rhodes doing his Opening Day thing, Sammy homering thrice at Coors Field, and Dave Kingman homering thrice at Dodger Stadium.
• Hey, since we’re just out here remembering classic things:
That Cubs 2004 rotation, man. pic.twitter.com/dr3hQ1cs6A
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 13, 2021
• Fun fact here: not only did all five of these guys wind up actually having good seasons, but the Cubs had a SIXTH starting pitcher that year who posted a 2.3 WAR over just 16 starts, and whose 3.50 ERA was second only to Zambrano’s 2.75. Can you name him without looking?
• Hernan Perez is a free agent right now, but he did some work in Venezuela:
Some history down in the Venezuelan Winter League: Hernán Pérez, who was with the #Cubs in 2020, hit .402.
It’s the first time in the 75-year league history three hitters have had an average over .400. pic.twitter.com/FbATiNoL2Y
— Andy Martínez (@amartinez_11) January 11, 2021
• Things went about as expected in the opener for the Blackhawks (welcome to covering a ROUGH roster in transition, Mario!):
They Have a Long Way To Go … A Very Long Way – Lightning 5, Blackhawks 1https://t.co/pVxx4cGsQP
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) January 14, 2021
• Now you can do promos like this without having to worry about the Bears:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 14, 2021